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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 59, 00-03-23

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 4, No. 59, 23 March 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] MOSCOW CONDEMNS ATTACK ON KARABAKH PRESIDENT
  • [02] VETERAN ARMENIAN DISSIDENT ASSESSES POLITICAL SITUATION
  • [03] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS LAW ON NUCLEAR ENERGY
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN, U.S. PLEDGE TO EXPAND MILITARY COOPERATION
  • [05] AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA RESOLVE PIPELINE DISAGREEMENTS
  • [06] GEORGIAN CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION APPEALS ON BEHALF OF
  • [07] LEADING KYRGYZ OPPOSITION FIGURE ARRESTED
  • [08] UZBEK BORDER GUARDS AGAIN SEEK UNILATERAL DEMARCATION OF
  • [09] TURKMEN, AZERBAIJANI OFFICIALS PESSIMISTIC ABOUT TRANS-

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] CROATIAN PRESIDENT VISITS BOSNIA
  • [11] TUDJMAN'S PRESS EMPIRE CRUMBLING
  • [12] UN: STILL RESISTANCE TO MULTI-ETHNIC BOSNIA
  • [13] BOSNIAN MUHAJEDIN TO BE RESETTLED
  • [14] INTERPOL PUTS MILOSEVIC ON WANTED LIST
  • [15] SERBIAN OPPOSITION SETS PROTEST DATE
  • [16] NO RUSSIAN POLICE FOR KOSOVA
  • [17] FORMER ROMANIAN OFFICIALS DENY EXISTENCE OF HOT LINE TO
  • [18] ...BUT ROMANIAN DAILY TO PRODUCE PROOF
  • [19] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CONNECTS VISA PROBLEM TO ROMA
  • [20] GREENPEACE ACTIVISTS PROTEST OUTSIDE ROMANIAN MINE
  • [21] IMF REPEATS WARNING TO MOLDOVA
  • [22] BULGARIAN OPPOSITION MEMBERS TO MARK NATO BOMBING ANNIVERSARY
  • [23] THOUSANDS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST UNEMPLOYMENT IN BULGARIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] CAN PUTIN MOVE RUSSIA BEYOND OBSTRUCTIONISM?

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] MOSCOW CONDEMNS ATTACK ON KARABAKH PRESIDENT

    A Russian

    Foreign Ministry official on 22 March expressed "indignation"

    over the previous night's assassination attempt in

    Stepanakert against Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the

    unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Interfax reported.

    "This is not the way to handle political issues." the

    official said. In Yerevan, Armenian Prime Minister Aram

    Sargsian told the parliament that the situation in the

    unrecognized republic is calm. Ghukasian and his wounded

    bodyguard and driver were transported to Yerevan for medical

    treatment on 22 March. LF

    [02] VETERAN ARMENIAN DISSIDENT ASSESSES POLITICAL SITUATION

    Speaking at the National Press Club on 22 March, Self-

    Determination Union Chairman Paruyr Hairikian, who also heads

    the presidential human rights commission, said the

    appointment of Aram Sargsian as prime minister was "a

    political mistake" in the light of his lack of political

    experience, Snark reported. Hairikian characterized the

    present situation as a struggle for power by all political

    parties and argued that there is a need to amend the

    constitution to stipulate that both the president and the

    premier are elected for a three-year term. Hairikian

    expressed concern over the progress of the inquiry into the

    27 October parliament shootings, in particular the arrest of

    three suspects solely on the basis of testimony given by the

    leader of the five gunmen who perpetrated the killings. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS LAW ON NUCLEAR ENERGY

    Deputies

    voted on 22 March to amend the law on nuclear energy to

    require that the government coordinate with the legislature

    any measures on the operation of the existing nuclear power

    station or construction of a new one, according to Snark, as

    cited by Groong. Also on 22 March, an ad hoc commission

    presented to the parliament the findings of an inquiry begun

    last October that confirm suspicions that corruption and

    inefficiency in the energy sector has cost Armenia millions

    of dollars over the past eight years, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    reported. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJAN, U.S. PLEDGE TO EXPAND MILITARY COOPERATION

    Admiral Charles Abbot, who is deputy commander of the U.S.

    Force in Europe, met with Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev

    in Baku on 21 March and with Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev

    the following day to discuss expanding bilateral military

    cooperation, Turan reported. Abbot expressed his appreciation

    to Guliev for the participation of an Azerbaijani contingent

    in the KFOR peacekeeping operation in Kosova, and presented

    him with a program of measures Azerbaijan is to undertake in

    the field of security, defense, humanitarian programs, mine-

    clearing, and promoting democracy. LF

    [05] AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA RESOLVE PIPELINE DISAGREEMENTS

    Meeting

    in Tbilisi on 22 March, Azerbaijani President Aliev and his

    Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, reportedly

    resolved their outstanding disagreements over the export of

    Azerbaijan's Caspian oil via the planned Baku-Ceyhan export

    pipeline, AP and Turan reported. Aliev said at a joint press

    conference that he has agreed to increase the transit tariff

    that Georgia will receive per metric ton of oil transported

    through the pipeline, but he did not say by how much. In late

    February, Aliev said that Tbilisi's demand for 3 percent of

    the crude transported plus 20 cents per barrel in transit

    fees was "unrealistic." LF

    [06] GEORGIAN CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION APPEALS ON BEHALF OF

    PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

    The Central Electoral Commission

    wrote to Adjar Supreme Council chairman Aslan Abashidze on 21

    March demanding that he permit former Batumi Mayor Tengiz

    Asanidze to campaign for the Georgian presidency, Interfax

    reported. Asanidze has spent the past seven years in jail

    after being convicted of theft of state property. He was

    amnestied last fall by President Shevardnadze, but the Adjar

    authorities refused to release him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7

    and 12 October 1999). Meanwhile, the OSCE election observer

    mission in Georgia has denied the claim by opposition

    candidate Djumber Patiashvili's campaign manager Mamuka

    Giorgadze that it detailed a special observer to accompany

    Patiashvili on his campaign engagements, Caucasus Press

    reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 March 2000). LF

    [07] LEADING KYRGYZ OPPOSITION FIGURE ARRESTED

    Former Bishkek

    Mayor and opposition Ar-Namys Party Chairman Feliks Kulov was

    taken on 22 March from a Bishkek hospital to the Ministry of

    National Security for questioning, Reuters and Interfax

    reported. Kulov was charged with abuse of office during his

    term as head of the National Security Ministry in 1997-1998.

    Also on 22 March, police dispersed several hundred

    demonstrators in the town of Kara-Buura who had been

    picketing the local administration building to protest

    Kulov's defeat in the 12 March parliamentary runoff. Thirty

    protesters were arrested, according to Interfax. LF

    [08] UZBEK BORDER GUARDS AGAIN SEEK UNILATERAL DEMARCATION OF

    FRONTIER WITH KAZAKHSTAN

    Excavators and trucks crossed from

    Uzbekistan 10 kilometers into the territory of the South

    Kazakhstan Oblast on 22 March and began unsanctioned border

    demarcation work, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported the

    following day quoting an oblast Interior Ministry official.

    It is the second such attempt by Uzbekistan this year (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 January 2000 and "End Note," 2 February

    2000). On 23 March, former Kazakhstan Customs head and

    unsuccessful 1999 presidential candidate Ghani Qasymov noted

    that Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have similar border problems

    with Uzbekistan. He called for the Kazakh leadership to begin

    discussing the creation of a military bloc of Central Asian

    states aligned against Uzbekistan. LF

    [09] TURKMEN, AZERBAIJANI OFFICIALS PESSIMISTIC ABOUT TRANS-

    CASPIAN PIPELINE

    Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov told

    Shell Oil officials on 22 March in Ashgabat that the

    proposals submitted earlier this week by Shell's partner, the

    U.S. company PSG, for proceeding with construction of the

    Trans-Caspian gas export pipeline are unacceptable, Interfax

    reported. ITAR-TASS had reported on 20 March that Niyazov

    refused to extend PSG's mandate for the project, which

    expired in February. Niyazov said that "with virtually no

    support at state level," it is unlikely work on the pipeline,

    tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2001, will start in

    the near future. In Baku, Azerbaijan state oil company

    president Natik Aliev similarly expressed doubt that the

    Trans-Caspian pipeline will be completed on schedule in late

    2002, according to Interfax. He said "long and detailed"

    negotiations will be needed before construction can begin.

    But he denied that plans by Azerbaijan to export gas from its

    Shah Deniz Caspian deposit by alternative route will render

    the Trans-Caspian pipeline unnecessary. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] CROATIAN PRESIDENT VISITS BOSNIA

    Stipe Mesic arrived in

    Sarajevo on 23 March for a two-day visit. It is his first

    official trip to another country as Croatia's leader. He told

    "Oslobodjenje" that his country will no longer interfere in

    Bosnia's internal affairs or finance the Herzegovinian para-

    state known as Herceg-Bosnia. He argued that the para-state

    must be dissolved, calling it a throwback to the days when

    Croatia's previous leadership sought to partition Bosnia. The

    president pledged that he will restore full legal status as

    recognized national minorities to Croatia's Slovenes and

    Bosnian Muslims, which the previous leadership abolished.

    Mesic is slated to meet with Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian

    members of Bosnia's central government. He will also hold

    talks with Cardinal Vinko Puljic and Father Petar Andjelovic

    of the influential Franciscan fathers. PM

    [11] TUDJMAN'S PRESS EMPIRE CRUMBLING

    Croatia's parliament

    appointed a committee on 22 March to investigate how

    individuals close to the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ)

    of the late President Franjo Tudjman acquired ownership of

    "Vecernji list" several years ago, "Jutarnji list" reported.

    The individuals, whose identities have never been made

    public, have long used the mass-circulation Zagreb daily as a

    mouthpiece of the HDZ. The government previously announced

    plans to sell the Zagreb daily "Vjesnik," which also

    represented the HDZ's views. On 22 March, the Split-based

    "Slobodna Dalmacija" reported that nearly 100 members of its

    staff protested against the pro-HDZ polices of the

    newspaper's management. PM

    [12] UN: STILL RESISTANCE TO MULTI-ETHNIC BOSNIA

    Assistant

    Secretary-General Hedi Annabi told the UN Security Council on

    22 March that the progress achieved toward integrating

    Bosnia's three ethnic communities since the end of the war in

    1995 is primarily the result of actions by the international

    community. He added that there has been "significant

    resistance by entrenched nationalistic and backward-looking

    elements, which continues to be encountered at every stage,"

    AP reported. The council began to discuss a report by

    Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in which he noted that the UN

    "has had to take strong action to seek to overcome continued

    obstruction, resistance, and delay in some key areas." Those

    problems include setting up a joint border police force, the

    refusal of the Herzegovinian Croats to integrate their police

    with those of the Muslims, and the lack of non-Serbian

    members in the Republika Srpska police. PM

    [13] BOSNIAN MUHAJEDIN TO BE RESETTLED

    Unnamed Muslim officials

    in Maglaj told "Oslobodjenje" of 23 March that Bosnia's

    Muslim leaders have agreed to resettle Bosnian and foreign

    Islamic fighters currently living in the village of Bocinja

    Donja. The Muslim authorities will "urge" some 89 Bosnian

    Muslim families there to return to their former communities.

    The authorities will also ask foreign fighters married to

    Bosnian women to resettle in their spouse's home community or

    to return to their own country. The officials added that

    Bosnian law grants the right of abode to any foreigner who

    has become naturalized through marriage to a Bosnian citizen.

    Observers note that the presence of the fighters remains a

    sore point in relations between the Sarajevo leadership and

    NATO. PM

    [14] INTERPOL PUTS MILOSEVIC ON WANTED LIST

    Interpol has issued a

    call on the Internet for the arrest of Yugoslav President

    Slobodan Milosevic for genocide and war crimes, RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported on 22 March. The appeal also

    includes a call for the arrest of four other high-ranking

    officials of the Belgrade regime whom the Hague-based war

    crimes tribunal indicted in 1999. PM

    [15] SERBIAN OPPOSITION SETS PROTEST DATE

    Representatives of

    Serbia's main opposition parties agreed in Belgrade on 22

    March to hold a protest rally there on 14 April (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 22 March 2000). A joint demonstration originally

    planned for March never took place because the opposition

    leaders could not agree on the order in which they would

    speak. Also on 22 March, leaders of the pensioners' union

    held a protest meeting to call attention to the poverty

    affecting many of Serbia's elderly. PM

    [16] NO RUSSIAN POLICE FOR KOSOVA

    The Foreign Ministry said in a

    statement in Moscow on 23 March that Russia will not send any

    police to Kosova. "The position of the United Nations

    [leadership] about the speediest deployment of an

    international police force in the province causes

    incomprehension. On the one hand, attention is constantly

    drawn to an acute shortage of police forces there. On the

    other, various pretexts are being found to delay for several

    months the arrival of Russian Interior Ministry officers for

    service in the contingent of the special police of the United

    Nations mission," AP reported the statement as saying.

    Repeating a view that Russian officials have frequently

    expressed, the statement added that "negative

    tendencies...have gone too far. The situation regarding

    ensuring the security of the non-Albanian population is

    constantly growing worse, while the activity of [ethnic

    Albanian] separatists, terrorists, and criminal structures is

    on the rise." PM

    [17] FORMER ROMANIAN OFFICIALS DENY EXISTENCE OF HOT LINE TO

    KREMLIN...

    Alliance for Romania Chairman Teodor Melescanu,

    who was foreign minister under former President Ion Iliescu,

    told journalists on 22 March that he is "not aware" that a

    "hot line" between Bucharest and the Kremlin existed or that

    negotiations with Russia aimed at reviving links between the

    former Warsaw Pact capitals have "ever been conducted."

    Likewise, Romanian National Party Chairman Virgil Magureanu,

    who was head of the Romanian Intelligence Service under

    Iliescu, told journalists in Suceava that a hot line "never

    existed" and that the "scandal surrounding this problem is

    stupid." Former Foreign Intelligence Service head Ioan Talpes

    told journalists that "parleys, not negotiations" were under

    way with Russia against the background of the pending basic

    treaty. He said that "only the Kremlin" was interested in

    resuscitating the line, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau and

    Mediafax reported. MS

    [18] ...BUT ROMANIAN DAILY TO PRODUCE PROOF

    Testifying on 22

    March to the Senate's Defense Commission, General Ioan Sima,

    chief of the Special Telecommunications Service, said that

    the equipment delivered by Russia in May 1995 (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline, 22 March 2000) was not destined for a "hot line but

    for "the modernization of international telegraph links' and

    that the "hot line" had not existed. He refused to elaborate,

    citing "state secrets." But Cornel Nistorescu, editor in

    chief of the daily "Evenimentul zilei," said on Romanian

    Television that on 23 March his newspaper will publish a

    document proving that former Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu

    and Melescanu proposed that the government approve an accord

    with Russia "concerning specially encrypted international

    telephone links." According to Nistorescu, the two were

    implementing a decision taken by the Supreme Defense Council,

    headed by Iliescu. MS

    [19] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CONNECTS VISA PROBLEM TO ROMA

    Petre Roman said on 21 March that the Romanian government has

    an obligation to "protect 23 million Romanians against the

    few thousand Gypsies" who are damaging the country's image

    abroad and hampering the country's efforts to get off the

    EU's visa blacklist, Rompres reported. Roman was speaking

    after returning from a meeting of the Romania-EU Association

    Council. VG

    [20] GREENPEACE ACTIVISTS PROTEST OUTSIDE ROMANIAN MINE

    A group

    of about 25 Greenpeace activists from various countries have

    blocked the entrance to the Aurul gold mine in Baia Mare,

    which caused a recent cyanide spill into the Tisza River,

    Rompres reported on 22 March. The activists unfolded a banner

    reading "Stop Cyanide. Esmeralda Must Pay," in a reference to

    the Australian firm that owns the mine. The management of the

    Aurul mine has refused to hold talks with the activists. The

    activists said they are prepared to protest for several days

    if necessary. VG

    [21] IMF REPEATS WARNING TO MOLDOVA

    Moldovan Parliament Speaker

    Dumitru Diakov on 22 March told the legislature Budget

    Committee that the country will not receive funding from the

    IMF if it does not fulfill every aspect of the memorandum

    that the fund signed with the Moldovan government, BASA-Press

    reported on 22 March. Diakov was speaking after a meeting

    with the IMF's permanent representative in Moldova, Hassan al

    Atrash. Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis noted that the Budget

    Committee's decision to raise expenditures in the draft

    budget runs counter to the IMF's conditions. VG

    [22] BULGARIAN OPPOSITION MEMBERS TO MARK NATO BOMBING ANNIVERSARY

    IN SERBIA

    Members of the Bulgarian Socialist Party have

    decided to attend ceremonies in Serbia to mark the

    anniversary of the beginning of the NATO bombing campaign

    against Yugoslavia last year, BTA reported. The other parties

    in parliament have refused to attend the ceremonies,

    according to Union of Democratic Forces deputy Dimitur

    Abadzhiev. Meanwhile, Aleksandur Tomov, the leader of the

    Euro-Left, said on 22 March that his party will send

    representatives to a congress of the opposition Social

    Democrats in Belgrade. VG

    [23] THOUSANDS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST UNEMPLOYMENT IN BULGARIA

    More

    than 6,000 people marched through the streets of downtown

    Sopfia on 22 March to demand higher wages and protest the

    country's rising unemployment rate. The rally was organized

    by the Confederation of Labor Unions. Confederation leader

    Zhelyazko Hristov told the demonstrators he will demand

    negotiations with the government. Unemployment in Bulgaria

    stands at 17 percent. In other news, the Bulgarian parliament

    on 22 March voted to restitute 23,000 hectares of forests to

    a medieval monastery in Rila, BTA reported. The forests were

    nationalized by the communist regime. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [24] CAN PUTIN MOVE RUSSIA BEYOND OBSTRUCTIONISM?

    By Christopher Walker

    In Soviet times, the prevailing communist concept of

    equality was based on the notion that it was fairer for all

    to fail than for one to prosper. As Russia has slid from the

    reform path and turned further inward over the course of the

    past half decade, it is reasonable to ask whether Vladimir

    Putin's Russia will rely on this old Soviet model or on one

    based upon cooperation and mutual advantage. For Russia's

    immediate neighbors, the stakes are particularly high. And

    the Baltic countries are a case in point.

    Indeed, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are among the most

    interested parties in the intense speculation over how

    Putin's ideological orientation and governing style will

    evolve once he obtains an electoral mandate. The Baltic

    countries want to anchor themselves in the West and intend to

    fulfill this goal by joining key Western institutions, namely

    the EU and NATO. Over the past several years, Russia's stance

    toward the Baltics has been demonstrably uncooperative on a

    range of matters, including sensitive border disputes as well

    as citizenship and language issues. Whether or not Putin

    believes there is a long-term benefit for Russia through

    cooperation with its three Baltic neighbors will determine if

    Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia realize their ambitions to

    join Western clubs according to their own timetable, rather

    than one controlled by Moscow.

    In the immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union's

    collapse, there was a period of cooperation, at times even

    characterized as a "partnership," between Russia and the

    West. But since the successes of communist and nationalist

    forces in the 1993 and 1995 parliamentary elections, Russia

    has moved away from such cooperation.

    In fact, the nature of Russia's obstructionism over the

    past several years can be seen to fall into two categories:

    one active, the other passive. Active obstructionism was born

    of the failure of Western-style reforms to take root and the

    steady erosion of Russian living standards. Nationalists and

    Communists took advantage of a sour popular mood to slow down

    cooperation with the West on a number of fronts. While NATO's

    action in Kosova clearly annoyed Russia, Moscow's

    increasingly uncooperative posture predated the NATO

    campaign.

    But perhaps more troubling is the variant of Russian

    obstructionism that is passive in nature, resulting

    principally from political gridlock and administrative

    incompetence. Severely drained by Russia's financial

    collapse, institutional exhaustion and corruption, Boris

    Yeltsin's administration was catatonic in its final years.

    Yeltsin himself was the clearest emblem of the overall

    moribund state. During this period, diplomats from

    neighboring countries routinely complained that they were

    unable to obtain decisions from Moscow or often simply could

    not locate an appropriate official in Moscow to answer their

    calls.

    Russia's negative behavior manifested itself in other

    ways, including the conduct of military exercises with such

    provocative names as "Operation Comeback" on its borders with

    the Baltic countries or threatening to apply sanctions or

    otherwise isolate countries with which it disagreed. Russia

    has recognized that its poor relations with the Baltic States

    may be used as a tool to keep the Baltics from advancing

    toward western institutions.

    Unless insufficient turnout somehow complicates matters

    by requiring further voting rounds, Putin's victory on 26

    March seems assured. Much of his popularity is derived from

    the substantial support he enjoys as a result of the war in

    Chechnya and what is best described as the remilitarization

    of Russia. For the time being at least, it appears the

    campaign in Chechnya has served Putin's purpose, allowing him

    to garner considerable domestic political support, while

    simultaneously diverting attention from Russia's serious

    economic and social ills.

    It remains to be seen whether the campaign in Chechnya

    will restore Russia's sense of prestige in the longer term.

    Should the campaign ultimately fail, Russia would find itself

    enfeebled to an even greater degree. Success achieved on the

    basis of abject brutality is similarly no source of comfort.

    Despite claims of Putin's ostensible administrative prowess,

    rigorous discipline, and high energy levels, he may not be

    capable of modernizing Russia quickly enough to keep pace

    with the rest of the world. And at the same time, Russia may

    not be willing simply to watch its immediate neighbors in the

    Baltics advance and join the former Soviet satellites in

    Central and Eastern Europe on the road to the West.

    Furthermore, Putin's stated intention of restoring Russia's

    strength and national prestige may not be consistent with

    integration into the community of nations and cooperation

    with Russia's neighbors.

    Thus, if Moscow is unable to formulate a cooperative

    policy of its own--or otherwise come to terms with the fact

    that the Baltics and other states formerly under Moscow's

    domination will eventually join the West--Putin's Russia may

    end up playing the only role it believes it can, namely that

    of spoiler.

    The author is a New York-based analyst specializing in

    Eastern European affairs (intrel@aol.com)

    23-03-00


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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